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Constructive dismissal special

08 July 2010

The recent case of Hunter v Timber Components (UK) Limited confirmed that an employee can establish a claim for constructive dismissal based on his employer’s treatment of fellow workers, even though he himself has not been mistreated, reports a partner at Willans.

The Case

  • The claim was brought by Mr Hunter, a joiner employed by Timber Components for over 20 years. He resigned because he was no longer prepared to witness the way that the owner’s son, a director, bullied and intimidated other employees.
  • The facts of this particular case meant that Mr Hunter failed in his claim for constructive dismissal. However it confirmed the principle that an employer’s conduct towards a member of staff may entitle a co-worker to regard the employer as having breached the implied term of trust and confidence that is present in all employment contracts.

Comments

It is an important case in many respects, but particularly in relation to situations where employers are having difficulties with one employee (maybe one who has been with them for less than a year).

The employer may not realise that, in the course of dealing with that worker, their actions may be relied on by another employee as the basis of a claim against them.

The key thing to bear in mind with constructive dismissal is that the employer’s motive for the action (or omission) in question is not relevant. The important thing is that they have behaved in such a way as to call into question the implied term of trust and confidence.

 

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